China takes lion's share of Geraldton exports

Ian Cutler, GERALDTON GUARDIANGeraldton Guardian

Geraldton Port has experienced eight consecutive years of trade growth, peaking at 18.4 million tonnes in the 2013-14 financial year, a Ports WA conference in Geraldton has been told.

Mid West Ports Authority chief executive Peter Klein told the conference this was good news, even though there had been a drop to 17 million tonnes in the financial year just ended and there had been uncertainty in the mining sector, resulting in a 7 per cent reduction in iron ore going through the port.

“We still have confidence in Karara’s position as one of the port’s major users, and we’re continuing to monitor Mount Gibson and its planned closure,” he said.

“We’re hoping the recent introduction to the port of the Independence Group and Sandfire Resources will compensate for some of the loss from Mount Gibson’s closure.”

Mr Klein said just as Geraldton Port was heavily reliant on iron or exports, it was also extremely reliant on China, with 70 per cent of products from the port going into that country and exports to Indonesia in second place but significantly behind that figure.

“Since the port enhancement project started in 2002-03, we and our proponents have poured half a billion dollars into the port, coming up to $1 billion if you take into account the investment of Brookfield in its Perenjori to Geraldton railway link,” he said.

Mr Klein said Mid West Ports Authority was continuing to investigate ways to reduce the impact of wave “surge” on shipping using the port.

“We lose 30-50 days a year as a consequence of the surge, and everyone has a different solution, with no two being alike,” he said.

Mr Klein said one of the most significant changes coming up for Mid West Ports Authority was a massive upgrade of its software management system which would transform its operations.

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